According to the Webster dictionary the term “Negro” is defined as a member of a race of humankind native to the continent of Africa and usually classified according to physical features such as dark pigmentation. In the American context many African Americans become defensive when this term is used to describe their racial identity especially older African -Americans that endured racial discrimination under the Jim Crow laws.
At the University of West Indies we were introduced to a student named Danni and she gave us a tour of the university. During the campus tour we asked Danni questions about race within the social context in Trinidad. She explained to us that people of African descent in Trinidad preferred to be called “Negro” instead of “Black” when they are asked to identify their racial identity; in addition to this form of racial identity she emphasized that many natives of Trinidad have a strong sense of nationalism. Many people of African descent in Trinidad prefer not be identified as a “Black” person. Everyone in Trinidad identifies themselves as Trinidadians instead of African- Trinidadians or Indian-Trinidadians. This piece of information resonated with us as students because in our native country America race is an important yet sensitive subject because structural racism has impacted our lives in various ways. Our tour guide Danni was surprised to learn that we African-Americans become offended when they are identified as “Negroes” in the racial context although after we explained the history behind the word in the American context she appreciated being able to understand this concept from our perspective.